VOLUNTEERS who raise money for Minehead station have reached a half a million milestone.

The Friends of Minehead Station have been raising funds through its 'Readers Halt' since the idea was spawned 22 years ago.

The then-secretary of the group, the late David Perry, convinced the committee members to have a purpose-built outlet on the platform, which would sell second-hand goods, to help relieve the financial burden on the West Somerset Railway plc.

Mr Perry thought they'd be 'laughing' if they managed to take £10 a day.

After 21 years in operation, money raised from the Halt has reached £500,000 as people have rallied to donate books and other items to be sold.

Chairman of FoMS, Martyn Snell, said: “Little did we realise the huge financial tap which David Perry was opening at the time. He would be so proud to have seen what has been achieved in and around the station since ‘Readers Halt’ first started in business.

“Without that first move and the donations of stock plus the hard work of the volunteer staff, the money raised would not have come into our coffers.

“I am so grateful to everyone who has donated their unwanted items and time to us in any way to help keep the WSR station at Minehead looking spic and span.”

A huge number of projects have taken place with the money raised, including refurbishing the station's toilets, resurfacing the platform and locomotive yard car park, and new tables for people to use at the cafe.

WSR plc vice chairman, Mark Smith, who was the WSR’s managing director when FoMS was formed and also gave permission for ‘Reader’s Halt’ to be built at Minehead station said: “The well know phrase that ‘From small acorns do grow might oaks’ seems very appropriate here.

“FoMS have done a truly magnificent job over the years in not only maintaining Minehead station, but also supporting the railway in its hour of need too.

“I, and the whole of the West Somerset Railway family, applaud their fantastic achievement in raising so much money for the good of the railway, and naturally wish them well for the next half million hopefully.”